Sonderbooks Book Review of

Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries

Ten Interactive Adventures in Mathematical Wonderland

by Eugenia Cheng

illustrated by Aleksandra Artymowska

Molly and the Mathematical Mysteries

Ten Interactive Adventures in Mathematical Wonderland

by Eugenia Cheng
illustrated by Aleksandra Artymowska

Review posted February 19, 2022.
Big Picture Press (Candlewick), 2021. First published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. 30 pages.
Review written January 4, 2022, from my own copy
Starred Review
2022 Mathical Book Prize Honor Book, Grades 3-5

Oh, this book is delightful! It’s a lift-the-flap adventure that demonstrates intriguing mathematical oddities. I know – that doesn’t sound amazing and inviting, but this book is both of those things.

A girl named Molly gets a series of mysterious notes. We get to lift flaps and read these notes. The notes tell her what to do to get past that page. The first note, for example, tells her to open her window and turn her room inside out – at least in her imagination. Flaps open the window. Then on the next page, we’ve got an inside-out world, explaining the mathematical concept of inverses.

Some of the pages have puzzles in the flaps. An impossible staircase Molly can only escape by lifting the flaps. A maze Molly can only traverse if you lift the correct flaps. Figuring out which flaps can be folded into a cube. Weaving strips so that pink squares are hidden. Turning paper dials to reveal the correct answer. Each page has something different to figure out or uncover, and it leads you through the book along with Molly.

And the mathematical concepts are fun ones. This book helps kids think about dimensions, tiling, self-similarity, symmetry, combinations, fractals, and more. After completing Molly’s adventure, five colorful pages give the reader more mathematical information.

I had a lot of fun going through this book – and I’m an adult who already knows all the concepts. I would love to watch a kid go through it. Of course, the one drawback is that with all the flaps, this is not a good choice for a library collection. But I think a kid who had it at home would find themselves returning to it again and again.

Note: Even though this is presented as a story about Molly and is thus technically Fiction, the focus is on the mathematical concepts, so I think it fits better with Children's Nonfiction, which is where I'll file it.